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OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers need a grading curve on consumer and patient issues.
With a number of decent scores but some abysmal ones, state legislators overall did an average job, the 2008 legislative scorecard from the Oklahoma Foundation for Consumer & Patient Rights shows.
The nonprofit Oklahoma City?based group released its annual scorecard Tuesday at a news conference at the state Capitol. The scorecard tracks almost 30 bills important to Oklahomans’ personal, financial and medical safety.
“I believe our society will be judged by how we treat the least among us – the poor, the sick, the elderly,” Foundation Executive Director Jeff Raymond said.
“During the last session help for cancer patients, children with autism and nursing home
residents failed to overcome powerful, selfish interests. The poor, the sick and the elderly
continue to suffer because of it.”
Yet, Raymond said, good things came about as well: Bills to inform consumers when their
confidential information has been breached, require day care centers to carry insurance, and
toughen penalties for elder abuse all became law.
“But the scorecard isn’t just about statutes and debates,” Raymond noted. “It’s about people’s lives.”
Speakers at Tuesday’s news conference explained just how much legislators’ actions – or inaction, in some cases – affect Oklahomans who simply are trying to get by.
Monty Collings described his daughter’s struggle with cancer and his drive to give her a legislative legacy through Steffanie’s Law for Clinical Trial Access.
Steffanie’s Law would have required insurance companies to cover routine medical care
associated with cancer clinical trials.
“We need the voice of Oklahomans to be heard – that we should get what we pay for! If we
quit paying our premiums then we would lose our coverage, but we pay our premiums as they tell us
to, so why don’t we get what we pay for?” Collings said.
Patients who participate in clinical trials end up costing insurance companies less than those
who don’t, he added.
Reggie Cervantes, an EMT whose volunteer rescue work at the World Trade Center on 9/11 destroyed her lungs, spoke about struggling to find affordable health care and
accompanying filmmaker Michael Moore to Cuba for his film “Sicko.”
As the Twin Towers collapsed, Cervantes went from a health care provider to a health care consumer. She now has terminal lung disease.
“I attempt to continuously navigate a system which is not consumer?based but is based on
the guidelines insurance companies create. Patients are consumers, but traditionally health
insurance has not treated us as consumers,” she said.
“We are consumers when we purchase groceries, electronics, a car, a home or gas. There are laws to protect us from price?gouging and protect us as consumers from being exploited,” she
“There are no laws to protect us from being exploited by health insurance companies
who put profits before people and life.”
About the Oklahoma Foundation for Consumer & Patient Rights
The Foundation is a nonprofit consumer and patient advocacy organization whose mission is to
produce and disseminate timely and informative analysis and information on public policy issues
that impact consumer and patient safety. For more information on the Oklahoma Foundation for
Consumer & Patient Rights, please call 800?994?6025 or visit www.okccps.org.